Botswana Confederation of Commerce and Industry (BOCCIM), the captains of the industry, warned Friday that the impending civil service strike could ground the economy to a halt and disrupt the services rendered to the public.
The warning was issued on Friday ahead of a planned ten-day national strike billed to commence on Monday (tomorrow).
The strike is centered around a dispute over the salary adjustment between Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSO) and government. The union is clamouring for 16 percent salary increase while government says it can only afford five percent.
On Thursday afternoon, throngs of workersÔÇölargely clad in black attire — were seen flooding the main mall with police escorts as they took to the streets to launch their planned strike, which is expected to begin this weekend.
The black attire is largely associated with mourning.
In a statement, BOCCIM said it believes that “the strike is not in the nation’s interest and that it could plunge the country’s fragile economy into recessionary conditions”.
“The national purse is strained as evidenced by the budget deficits in the last three years. BOCCIM clearly supports government programs of belt-tightening during these difficult times, which have affected all sectors of the economy. We believe that the austerity measures taken by government are in the best interest of the country and are a foundation for a sustainable economy going forward,” BOCCIM said.
The Public sector has not seen an increase in salaries for well over four years, but BOCCIM insists that the world economic downturn — sparked by the sub-prime lending in the USA and later spread to the financial sector ÔÇô should be blamed for stagnant salaries.
“We are inclined to believe that unmanaged increases in payroll costs would only work against the objectives that we have set ourselves as a country,” BOCCIM said in a statement.
The organization also warned that the country’s private sector will be negatively affected by the strike when some government rendered services become unavailable. It was also pointed out that investors’ confidence will be thoroughly dented should the strike go as planned.
The Botswana economy is largely dominated by the government sector.
“We urge government to put in place contingency measures to minimize any disruptions that could occur and ensure that essential services remain available to both the private sector and Botswana in general,” it urged.
The organization said that it hoped that if the strike did take place, the private sector would not be disturbed in any way and that there would be no harm to premises, property, and people.